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September 25, 2004

Now Yezidi, now you don't?*

Tha Beeb has posted an eight-image photo journal about the Yezidis

(i.e. Kurds who resisted conversion to the religion of their Muslim conquerors).

BBC News
Yezidis are an ancient, pre-Islamic sect of uncertain origin.

Researches [sic] believe that the Yazidi creed has elements from Zoroastrianism, Manicheism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Justin Huggler, "Hell's Angels", The Independent, 2003 November 29.
The Yezidi believe that after man's creation, God ordered the angels to pray for Adam, but that one angel refused - there is a similar belief in Islam.
Their problems have been compounded by the widely accepted belief that Yezidism was a sect that split from Islam - which makes them apostates in the eyes of many Muslims. The Yezidi deny that their religion is an offshoot of Islam - they say it is centuries old and predates Christianity.

In all likelihood, the story of the angel's refusal was transmitted from Yezidism to Islam or, at least, from a common antecedent, than the other way round. I'd want to drag my copy of The Origin of Satan by Elaine Pagels out of storage before I go into greater detail.

Yezidism, like Coptic Christianity, is one of the only religious relicts in the Middle East to have survived the rise of Islam. However, looking at its apparently Gnostic aspects, I personally doubt that Yezidism, in its present form, predates Christianity. The Yezidi syncretism also seems to borrow heavily from the pre-Christian Zoroastrianism (one of the Yazidis in the Independent article is named Nawroz Ali) as well as the post-Christian Manichaeism (itself a syncretism in which Zoroastrianism and Christianity, alongside Buddhism, predominated). Perhaps, before the rise of Islam, the region was characterized by a diverse spectrum of every shade of synthesis between Christianity and Zoroastrianism (and, as one moves further east, Buddhism as well, as evidenced by inscriptions referring to "Buddha-Mazda") despite the Sassanids' intolerance of Zoroastrian heresies.

BBC News
Yezidis remain fiercely proud of their traditions and have resisted attempts to "convert" them.

This has led to devil-worshipping allegations and, in some cases, oppression by their Muslim neighbours.

Justin Huggler, "Hell's Angels", The Independent, 2003 November 29.
Muslim extremists turned the Yezidi elopement tradition against them and started kidnapping Yezidi women from the fields by force, then making them convert to Islam.
[Majdal al-Hakkari, who runs the local Yezidi cultural centre in Sinjar] and his friends say that, rejected by everyone else, they have come to think of themselves as ethnic Yezidis. One of them proudly reads out a list of demands, for recognition for the Yezidi in Iraq's new government, for UN protection. But the sad truth is that no one is listening.

The Yezidi are almost the only minority in Iraq not to have a seat on the new US-appointed Governing Council. Despite Yezidi representations to the Americans, the powerful Kurdish factions simply announced that the Yezidis were Kurds and should be represented by them - an easy way to boost Kurdish numbers, and therefore, influence.

Without a stake in power, the Yezidi remain at risk as conflicting parties struggle for control of this part of Iraq. Worse, they are in serious danger from the Wahabi Muslim extremist factions that have been growing in power since the fall of the Saddam regime.

In other words, those from whom the nigh-extinct Yezidis are in greatest danger of genocide, are the same people whom John Pilger, Tariq Ali, Naomi Klein and others have praised as the "resistance".

Thanks, ass.

Fortunately the following picture means that I don't have to end on a bitter note.

Could these two be any cuter?

Could these two be any cuter? They might even give Belle's belles a run for their money in the adorability stakes.

* Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week. Try the veal, it's fantastic!

Posted by jeet at 01:56 AM